One of Harrogate's most famous and successful international brands says its expansion plans will increase the amount of woodland near its plant.
Major employer Harrogate Spring Water has faced opposition on environmental grounds to what it says is crucial investment for its economic future.
The company's statement comes after Pinewoods Conservation Group announced recently it was formally objecting to Harrogate Spring Water's plans to build on Rotary Woods as part of a major new development.
Neil Hind, chairman of the Pinewoods Conservation Group, said: “Following our annual general meeting and further consultation, the PCG has formally objected to the planning proposal to build on Rotary Woods within the Pinewoods.
“As a body which aims to dedicated to “protecting and conserving habitat and wildlife in the Harrogate area, we cannot support development on any area of the Pinewoods.”
But Harrogate Spring Water’s managing director James Cain, who prides his company on its strong ethical and environmental record, recently told the Harrogate Advertiser his proposals were specifically aimed at increasing woodland overall.
He said: “Fifty per cent of our expansion in terms of the land will be gifted towards woodland and green space.
“The aim of our plans is to end up with more trees in total than currently and to give the public greater access to the woodlands by creating new walkways.”
The investment plans by Harrogate Spring Water would see the construction of a 5,000 sq metre extension on a four-acre section of the Pinewoods current footprint, known as Rotary Wood.
A world-wide success story, with Harrogate Spring Water’s growth levels topping 30 per cent in 2016, it says expansion is utterly critical to enable it to continue its progress.
Moreover, the investment would bring added economic and job benefits to Harrogate and the whole region.
But Pinewoods Conservation Group claims the loss of the wooded area would be bad for the environment, including the local habitat which includes bats, hedgehogs and badgers.
The area, known as Millennium or Rotary Wood, was originally created in 2005 by Harrogate Rotary as part of their centenary celebrations.
Hundreds of new trees, made up from around 70 native and European species, were planted on land owned by Harrogate Borough Council by members of the Rotary with local schools and other groups to form an extension to the original Pinewoods.
The Pinewoods Conservation Group is also recommending that the Council Nursery site adjacent to the Pinewoods owned by Harrogate Borough Council is transformed into a new wooded and wildlife friendly area once vacated.
Among a raft of suggestions to support the Pinewood area’s biodiversity, the volunteers’ ultimate gola is to expand it as a green spot rather letting it shrink.